Berlin From A Bike By: gray marler

They say the best way to see a city is by walking through it, but to hell with that. With technology the way it is, I can get that experience from the comfort of my couch. And after walking an average of 15 miles a day for the first four days, I was over the whole bipedal thing.

My Uncle with whom I was traveling decided to arrange a bike tour with a local company: a much less demanding means of conveyance. The tour began underneath the famous Fernsehen Tower, where we met our guide and group for the day. Our guide introduced herself as Sophie, and by her side was a sweet old Finnish couple in their 60's who's names I can not recall.

Looking up at the Fernsehen Tower from the entrance.

After familiarizing ourselves with the bicycles, and a few near misses in the crowded square underneath the tower, we were on our way. Our first stop, as everyone's first stop in Berlin should be, was the infamous Bergheim nightclub.

Bergheim from the fence that surrounds the perimeter.

From what I've been lead to believe, you don't understand the meaning of the word "party" until you've stepped through the threshold of this repurposed Cold War era power plant. Dazed and bleary eyed partygoers dressed in mostly black littered the entrance of the club smoking cigarettes and resting their ears from the blaring house music. If the people outside were any indication, the party was still going strong. And mind you this was 1 pm on a Saturday. As Sophie put it, "People start lining up on Friday afternoon, and the club is full until early Monday morning." A real work hard play hard mentality those Germans have. I like that. With such infamy surrounding it, Bergheim has no shortage of patrons. You could wait in line for hours only to have the doorman turn you away because he didn't like the shirt you were wearing. Don't worry too hard though, they love Americans in Berlin. If you're there and looking for a good time, it's worth a shot. Sophie had two recommendations for those who wish to attend that stuck out to me: no photography as it is strictly forbidden, and don't attend if you recoil at the sight of powdered drugs. I wonder if those two things are related?

A square, the name for which escapes meĀ 

The next stop, albeit brief, was a small square that after a few turns through back alleys we emerged into. I was greeted by graffiti everywhere, a small stage, and shacks of local food vendors that were unfortunately closed. If you can't tell by this point, I absolutely adore Berlin. A city filled with all different kinds of art, architecture, culture, and ideas is my cup of tea. Urban areas capture an entirely different kind of beauty for me, and this square expresses it perfectly. Being surrounded by what I imagine is hundereds of people's self expression makes me think about life man, ya know?

As we rode away from the square, I stopped to take a few pictures of murals that were painted on the sides of buildings. The ammount of art in Berlin is truly remarkable. Sure, there are plenty of museums where you can see fine works of established artists, but what really sticks out is how open the government and community is to the average person adding their own touch to the city. I think everyone benefits when a once lifeless wall is given new meaning.

Speaking of walls being given meaning, the next place we stopped was the Berlin Wall. This requires little pretext as it is perhaps the largest German tourist cliche. What I found most entertaining about this stop was the wide variety of people who were congregated around various sections taking pictures of themselves and loved ones.

My favorite and only picture I took of the Berlin Wall.

We struggled not to hit anyone on the crowded thoroughfare on our way to Tempelhof Airport. Bar none of the nightlife and historical significance, this was my favorite amenity Berlin had to offer its citizens. Tempelhof was a fully functioning airport during World War Two, but has since been repurposed as a public park. Long stretches of Tarmac and cleared greens allow for a variety of leisure activities.

A group of older men had built themselves trikes out of aluminum framing and sand tires. They cruised the fields using kites flying high in the sky for propulsion. If I had known how to ask in German at the time, I would've begged for a turn. Similarly, a younger man afixed a kite surfing kite to his longboard. It is this kind of innovation that will take action sports to the next level. The sky above the main field was spattered in kites of all shapes, sizes, and actions. An octopus waved its arms as a school of fish circled each other with unthinkable speed. I could see myself spending a lot of time at this place. And every person there had the same goal: fun.

The outside wall of a local magazine's offices.

We finally concluded the tour at the offices of a local magazine. Sophie deciphered the meaning of all of these different sculptures, but the point was to poke fun at the owner of another magazine who's offices were on the same street. That rather well endowed man is the owner of said magazine, and according to Sophie, he can see this display from his office at that building. I always one for settling conflict with humor, and the fact that this is a totally acceptable public display should give you some insight into the German approach to it. In America I can only imagine the uproar this would cause. "My children are being robbed of their innocence!" A parent yells. "This encourages rape!" yells another. I long for America to embrace these values of not getting riled up over nothing. Berlin kicks ass. If I ever move there I would commission a similar sculpture of myself to put on the front door.

What better way to conclude some low intensity exercise, comeradery, and a good time than with a German beer? After trying it, I'm convinced that beer purity laws should international with penalty of death. And kids the drinking age for beer and wine is 16 there, but I was not asked to produce ID once when I was there. So if mom and dad are looking for somewhere to go next vacation...

Berlin is a city that should be visited by every human who likes interacting with other humans. It has its own culture, and that is evident in the populous. I couldn't name half of the countries that I met people from, and what brought us all together was this city. Even though I didn't get to experience the night life as I wanted to, it's just another reason to go back. A city of all different people, art, food, culture...God the list goes on. Go there. There is at least one experience in Berlin for everyone and it would be a shame to miss out on this urban metropolis.

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